After the incident at the yeshivah, Avner was no longer allowed to learn with Eliezer. Instead, Reb Pinchas himself retired from most of his public duties and devoted his day to learning together with his son.
“Abba, are you sure you don’t mind spending so much time away from the yeshiva?” Eliezer asked his father as they learned one day inside of their home. “I enjoy learning with you so much, but I feel guilty that you don’t get to spend as much time on the affairs of the city.”
Reb Pinchas couldn’t help but laugh.
“Eliezer, do you know how long I dreamed of the day I would be able to learn with my own son? Every second I spend with you is like a piece of Olam Haba for me.”
“And your father isn’t the only that feels that way.” Bracha entered the room with a tray of food and hot drinks. “Don’t feel guilty, Eliezer. Besides, you need to study hard for your bar mitzvah! It’s only a few months away!”
Eliezer thought about the beautiful bar mitzvah his parents would make for him and broke out in a huge smile. His parents watched and beamed with happiness. At that moment it truly seemed that at long last, their family would experience a happily ever after.
But everything changed when Eliezer broke the third condition.
“You can’t travel over water,” Bracha explained as she straightened Eliezer’s bar mitzvah robe. It was the day after his bar mitzvah celebration, and the guests were gathered for a farewell event before leaving. “That’s why we couldn’t make this simchah over the river where there’s a single building large enough to host all of the guests.”
“Oh, I forgot.”
“You can’t ever forget!” Bracha tilted her son’s chin so that he was staring into her concerned face. “I can’t lose you again!”
“Sorry, Mother.” Eliezer looked downcast and his shoulders slumped.
“Sometimes I forget how young you are, Eliezer. But do not fear. Abba hired a special bodyguard to stay with you during the entire bar mitzvah celebration!”
“How did you guess?”
“Now remember, little guy, you need to stay by my side the entire time!” Yonah strolled next to Eliezer with his chest puffed out and an important look on his face.
Yonah had tried dressing up nicely for the occasion, but the result was a bit comical. His white shirt was only halfway buttoned, his robe was inside out, and his shoes were mismatched, but he looked as proud as a king.
“I’m thirteen years old, remember!” Eliezer tried to walk faster than Yonah as a group of boys from the yeshivah moved through the large crowd of guests to wish him mazel tov.
“Ha! Still a young chick! Besides, I remember what happened at your previous simchos. I’m not taking any chances!”
“Shalom aleichem, young man!” A distinguished-looking rosh yeshivah stepped in front of them and stuck out his hand to shake Eliezer’s. “My name is Chacham Bentzion. I have traveled four months across the ocean to speak to your father. Is he here?”
“Chacham who?” Yonah squared his shoulders aggressively and eyed the man with the long white beard and rabbinic robe with suspicion. “I’ve never heard of you.”
“Ah, Chacham Bentzion! What an honor!” Reb Pinchas appeared and he embraced the rabbi with obvious delight and excitement.
“Oh...” Yonah looked down at his mismatched shoes with a sheepish expression.
“I am terribly sorry to disrupt your simchah like this, but I’ve come on behalf of an urgent manner and it cannot be delayed even one moment.”
Reb Pinchas nodded and gestured to a quieter spot behind a tent where they could speak. “After you.”
“The king has kidnapped 13 chachamim based on the anti-Semitic lies his advisers have told him,” Chacham Bentzion said once they were alone. “The chachamim will be put to death very soon if we do not meet the king’s outrageous demands.”
(Excerpted from Mishpacha Jr., Issue 751)
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